A peek into our collections, one object at a time

Celia Cruz

July 13, 2017

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celia cruz in yellow tango dress
“¡Yo soy de Cuba la Voz, Guantanamera! Celia Cruz” by Alexis Rodríguez-Duarte in collaboration with Tico Torres, inkjet print, 1994 (printed 2016). (National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution © 1994 Alexis Rodríguez-Duarte)

Her voice was as legendary as her stage persona. Cuban singer Celia Cruz (1925–2003)—internationally known as the “Queen of Salsa”—was one of the most popular and awarded Latin artists of the 20th century.  Her career included 23 gold albums and a National Medal of the Arts, awarded by President Bill Clinton in 1994.

Cruz broke through the male-dominated genre of salsa music and became one of its most influential artists. Her catch phrase, ¡Azúcar!, is recognized worldwide. She was known for her colorful stage costumes and just-as-vibrant personality. After her death July 16, 2003, more than 200,000 fans paid their final respects at a vigil in Miami.

This portrait by Alexis Rodríguez-Duarte, in collaboration with Tico Torres, was part of a significant acquisition of portraits of prominent Latino figures and artists to the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection.

Learn more about the National Portrait Gallery’s Latino collections.